When you think about the tattoo process, you think about pain. This also goes hand in hand with hair removal, waxing, tattoo removal, sunburns, and so on. They all just go hand in hand with pain…right? Well, today I talk about how to deal with that pain and choose the best numbing cream and spray for your situation. While many consider the pain of a tattoo a rite of passage, the truth remains that certain populations exhibit more sensitivity to pain. Rather than a lack of pain tolerance, certain genetic conditions predispose people to sensitivity. Just thinking of going under a needle makes some people cringe in anticipation of that pain, but thankfully, advances in technology relieve a lot of their fears. Just like tattoo machines revolutionized the inked world, numbing products make the medium more accessible!
The best skin numbing creams and sprays both prevent you from feeling excess pain and help your tattoo artist along (or whomever is helping you out with your procedure of choice). Let’s learn what makes numbing creams work, how to use them for various purposes (more than just tattoos), and what to look for while shopping. The advantages of numbing cream outweigh going without, even for people with high pain tolerance! Naturally, ask your artist or doctor about the best ways to use these. Many artists only accept numbing creams due to their utility and efficacy. A doctor (which I am not) will tell you about any medical properties that I miss in this article.
Skin Numbing Cream
First, let’s take a look at skin numbing cream and how it applies to you. Doctors, beauticians, tattoo artists, waxers, and many more disciplines use skin numbing cream to temporarily dull the sensation of your skin. The relief lasts between thirty minutes to five hours, depending on application method and quality of the cream. It’s safe enough that many varieties are available over-the-counter and from sites like Amazon. I focus only on these over-the-counter varieties due to their availability and good reputation.
As someone interested in any form of body modification—including tattoos—numbing cream provides a way for you to minimize pain. For people with a low pain tolerance, that means you can finally ink a tattoo! For people with good pain tolerance, the numbing cream makes long sessions easier. Splitting the tattoo between different sessions due to pain hinders both you and the artist! Numbing creams also provide a practical use beyond just pain relief, but we’ll get into that later. For a focused look at numbing cream reviews, read our full article.
How Numbing Cream Works
The method of numbing depends on what ingredients the cream uses, so I only focus on Lidocaine creams, for now. Once applied to the skin, it soaks through the thin layer of dermis and blocks the nerve endings it touches. Because of this, any pain that these nerves experience never relays to the brain. As far as your brain knows, you only feel a little pressure in the area! Even that only occurs because the body senses pressure differently than it does pain. As for sensitive skin, look up the main ingredient of the cream, rather than the active ingredient. If petroleum jelly normally irritates your skin, look to tattoo sprays for a different version of the same ingredient—mineral oil. We talk more about the science of numbing cream on this page.
Since numbing cream only serves that purpose and the effect fades as soon as the cream washes away, doctors and artists consider numbing creams very safe. A few side-effects exist with improper care, though. First of all, using too much on a large part of your body—such as on your whole back—risks a nerve blockage far beneath your skin. Your nerves relay more information than pain, so that poses a hazardous risk. Similarly, applying Lidocaine to a deep and profusely bleeding wound may cause it to circulate to other parts of the body. Shallow wounds like tattoos, piercings, waxing, and other skin modifications pose no risk.
How to Use Numbing Cream
Obviously, following the directions of your numbing cream yields the best results. However, many of them fail to mention some tips and tricks that help during beauty routines. For tattoos, apply it ahead of time—whatever the brand recommends. Then, seal it up in saran wrap. This prevents the cream from evaporating and prolongs its effect. You can easily remove the wrap and rinse off the skin before your tattoo session, or you could slowly peel it off during the tattoo session to ensure the absolute maximum effect!
Numbing Cream in a Hospital
In a medical environment, numbing cream relieves the sensation of inserting an IV. During small skin surgeries, it saves the patient a lot of stress. Use it before incising or draining a skin cyst or abscess to reduce discomfort. Removing sensitive parts of the skin such as skin tags, warts, moles, and strange growths all benefit from the use of numbing cream. It helps absolve the patient of that invasive feeling that occurs with any surgery. Apply a thin layer to the affected area and wipe it away after thirty minutes or so. Usually, your surgeon will help you with application, but doing it at home proves cheaper if you live in America.
Numbing Cream for Beauty
For general beauty applications, any painful procedure benefits from the use of numbing cream. Abrasion therapy and dermatherapy both create small pinpricks in your skin. Since the skin breaks and it feels sort of uncomfortable, the numbing cream works wonders. It also helps in the event of a sunburn—even moreso than aloe vera! Perhaps its most useful application involves waxing. Apply it ahead of time, wash it off just before your waxer begins, and enjoy a pain-free hair removal session!
Special Numbing Cream Instructions
In all situations, ensure that your artist, waxer, surgeon, doctor, or beautician knows that you used numbing cream. They sometimes gauge their efficacy based on client reactions. In example, waxers adjust their technique depending on their clients’ pain tolerance. If they know you withstand anything they throw at you, then your session goes by much faster! A doctor may also give you precise directions on how to use your numbing cream.
Best Numbing Cream for Tattoos
The best numbing cream for tattoos contain a high amount of active ingredients (usually a dose of lidocaine) and lasts for a significant amount of time. For large tattoos, you want one that lasts at least three hours. The majority of over-the-counter numbing creams last for about that long, but you can prolong the effects by using the techniques I mentioned in the usage section.
To ensure that it lasts for the duration of your session, check how long it takes for it to work. Some require thirty minutes to truly dull your nerves, while others only need minutes. Even in the event that your numbing cream ‘wears off,’ your nerves still remain dull for several more hours. At most, the final parts of your tattoo process feel like uncomfortable prodding.
Furthermore, numbing creams contain one more advantage for beauty techniques like tattoo art. Certain creams constitute as a ‘glide’—something which aids in the inking process of your tattoo. As your artist fills in your ink and pigment, the glide helps them make smooth movements over your tattoo. Of course, your artists need to wear medical gloves to prevent the cream from affecting themselves, but otherwise it aids them in their work. Naturally, creams with a thicker consistency work better. They keep the gun steady and smooth without too much slipping around.
Tattoo Numbing Cream Reviews
Now that we know all about numbing cream, let’s talk about the specific advantages of each over-the-counter brand. I compare the price, efficacy, duration, production method, and reputation to give you the most balanced numbing cream reviews available. On top of that, each product here is FDA compliant, which means they follow all safety protocols. Use this list of reviews to choose which one suits you best!
HUSH anesthetic – Tattoo Numbing Gel
This stuff contains no epinephrine, ensuring many more people enjoy the beneficial properties of the numbing cream without some extra side effects. Since they developed it specifically for use during a tattoo, it serves as an excellent glide alongside its normal function. It only lasts for two hours, but that’s more than enough to cover small tattoos. In the odd event that it wears off, applying more proves no problem for artist and client alike. This numbing cream also works for tattoo removal, waxing, laser hair removal, piercings, and small surgeries. Due to its efficacy, we wrote a very detailed review of Hush Anesthetic on a page of its own.
Numb 520 (1.35oz / 38g) 5% Lidocaine
Numb 520 offers a large amount of relief thanks to its 5% lidocaine content. As you already know, lidocaine directly relieves pain from the skin when applied by dulling your nerves. Designed for the most sensitive areas of your body, it works on all kinds of ailments—including body modification! Your permanent makeup, tattoo sleeve, Brazilian wax, and more go by in a flash when you use this stuff. It also helps with the post-tattoo itch!
Numb Master Topical Anesthetic Cream
Apply this numbing gel about twenty minutes ahead of time to enjoy the maximum benefits. This works much more quickly than other types of anesthetic cream, so if you want to stock up your own store, I recommend using this one. It contains reduced amounts of oil, so simply water and paper towels removes the gel before a procedure. As with all numbing products, using plastic wrap over the product prolongs its efficacy. This 1 oz. bottle easily covers the area of a half sleeve.
HUSH Anesthetic – Tattoo Numbing Spray (NEW FORMULA)
When you want to apply something quickly and effectively—or simply need to reach your back—a spray helps you with that. Believe it or not, HUSH Anesthetic makes this tattoo numbing spray with a more effective formula than their cream. To be precise, the droplets easily penetrate the area and only take ten minutes or so to take effect. It lasts for four hours, does not affect the ink, and even works during the healing process. Even for non-tattoo uses, it helps relieve pain and itching in an area. Since HUSH works so well, we go over the brand’s pros and cons in a dedicated page.
Out of all the creams, I recommend using HUSH anesthetic numbing cream. Among the sprays, I see the most success with Vasocaine numbing spray. However, judge each one for yourself and find what suits you most—especially since they all work!
Artists and Tattoo Numbing Spray
As long as the numbing cream you use complies with FDA regulations, your artist should have no problem with the numbing cream or spray. The only issue they present is the possibility of numbing your own artist’s fingers! Tell them ahead of time so that they procure the appropriate gloves for the procedure. Honestly, though, since creams must be applied ahead of time, it would take hours before your artist is even affected by it, even without any sort of protection. Since the creams provide the beneficial effect of a tattoo glide, they bring more to the table than they take away.
If your artist still dislikes the idea of topical numbing cream, ask them about alternative numbing products. In example, tattoo numbing spray applies easily both during and after the process, leaves your ink untouched, and helps you through the painful process. Since spray only applies a thin layer of numbing product, your artist need not worry about its effects on themselves or their work. A tattoo numbing spray functions solely as pain relief for you! All of the things I listed work for tattoo artists I’ve met—and their clients—so hopefully these testimonies help sway any old-school artist you run into!
Topical Numbing Cream
Ultimately, the case for numbing cream contains dozens of reasons to use it. As always, ask your artist and doctor about whether it’s right for you and spot test the cream on a small area ahead of time. This avoids complications, allergic reactions, and bad side effects! Along with that, follow all other instructions provided with the cream. Numbing cream opens up the door to a wide range of body modification.
From waxing to tattoos, permanent makeup to piercings, and laser hair removal to surgery, topical numbing cream offers a huge amount of uses. If you wanted to go through any of these procedures but abstained due to the threat of pain, then give this stuff a try. All of them work, plus, it helps you take control of your body and use it the way you want! Enjoy!
As always, thanks for reading!